BAN #133: Ancient Skies, Time-lapse Earth

July 22, 2019 Issue #133

[Saturn image credit: NASA / JPL / Space Science Institute / Gordan Ugarkovic]

Subscribers float over the Earth and absorb the wonder.

Upcoming Appearances/Shameless Self-Promotion

Where I’ll be doing things you can watch and listen to or read about

[Credit: PBS]

I’m very pleased to let y’all know that I will be featured in a new limited-run TV documentary series called “Ancient Skies” — all about how our ancestors viewed the sky, what tools they used, and how they interpreted what they saw. I’ll be recurring in each episode going over some of the ways observations were made in the centuries and millennia past.

Or, as the show’s synopsis puts it:

[Credit: IMDB]


We recorded most of my segments at the US Army’s Fort Irwin base in the Mojave desert (I don’t know why, but it’s a truism that a lot of astronomy stuff I do for TV winds up being done in a desert someplace) and some at the George F. Beattie planetarium at Bernadino Valley College. We had a lot of fun, and I’m excited to see what we did on TV!

The first episode, “Gods and Monsters”, airs on Wednesday July 24th on PBS (check your local listings etc. usw.). You can watch a preview, too.

I hope y’all give it a shot!

Pic o’ the Letter

A cool or lovely or mind-bending astronomical image/video with a short description so you can grok it

I love Seán Doran’s work — he takes already incredible images from space and puts them together in a way to make them more beautiful, lusher, and more jaw-dropping.

But why take my word for it? Watch this: “Visions of Earth”, a high-resolution video featuring images from the International Space Station of our planet slowly turning below


Funny, having watched a lot of videos like this I recognized some of the shots, like the bit around 8:50 with the Moon in Taurus (you can see the V-shaped collection of stars marking the horns of the bull to the right of the Moon) setting next to a dazzling aurora, and the Pleiades star cluster nearby. I amused myself trying to figure out where the ISS was during some of the segments, and realizing I can recognize a lot of the Earth by these photos. I guess that comes from spending so much time looking at videos like this!

So besides feeding the artistic desire of our brains, such videos also educate us about the planet. Well, they can inspire learning at least; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen something like the shot at 4:19 and thought, where is that? Then I spend time poking around the web seeing what it is, why it’s shaped that way, or why it’s colored that way, or why the geological forces wound up shaping the region that way.

And oh: That specific example is the Persian Gulf. The cities lit up include Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Kuwait City (on the far left). The Qatar peninsula is obvious, too, as is the island of Bahrain. See what I mean? It’s so easy to try to learn more.

It’s fun, too. Give it a try! What’s in the video you didn’t recognize, but could figure out eventually?

Et alia

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